Preparing for summer emergencies

by Lyle Karasiuk

Summer time is fun family time, but often whether at the cabin or travelling out of province minor or major emergencies might occur. Are you prepared?

Having a first aid kit handy is the safest way as is having some training on what to do with that first aid kit. You can buy a commercial kit in many local stores but you can easily build one too. Your first aid needs to contain the following essentials:

• Something to stop the bleeding – big rolls of gauze but if not handy even a pair of socks will work. Of course, don’t forget a sample of small band aids for minor cuts and some antibiotic ointment. A commercial tourniquet is a great resource as would be a compact commercial splint.

• A few slings or triangular bandages are also very useful. Of course, as a sling but also to tie things like if you need to splint an arm or leg.

• Some instant cold packs just in case a bag of frozen peas is not available from the freezer. Cold compress will reduce swelling for minor bruises, sprains or strains.

• Something just in case you must do rescue breathing such products are called a barrier device or pocket mask.

• Don’t forget the rubber gloves to protect your hands.

Beyond these basics, you can add what ever else your family might need. Things like tweezers for splinters; something for a headache, pen and paper to keep notes; tensor bandage for wrapping maybe a sprained ankle; medications family members regularly take. Anything else at this point is a bonus and totally depends on what your families’ needs are. Keeping it all together in one container is easier than looking here for that and somewhere else for that.

Next step, do you know how to use the products in the kit? Wearing gloves protects you. The basic principles of bleeding are never remove something significant that is stuck in place. Firm direct pressure and lots of it will be required to stop the bleeding. Have the injured person use their own hand in the beginning to control the bleeding or at least till you can get the first aid kit.

Wrap the wound with firm pressure but not so tight to cut off circulation. The injured person’s fingers need not be blue if there is a wound on their arm.

A tourniquet is a last resort and should be used for life threatening injuries such as missing arm, major wound to the leg possible from a chain saw. When saving a life is of the greatest importance the tourniquet might be the only option. Commercial tourniquets work the best. The amount of pressure needed on the average person’s leg is quite a bit but we are trying to stop all bleeding below the injury site. Taking a first aid course is the best way to learn how to use a tourniquet.

Common “summer injuries” like finger slammed in trailer hitches, fish hooks caught in the skin, stepping on broken glass, seem to happen every summer. Make sure your tetanus shot is up to date. However, if the emergency is more than you can handle, paramedics are but a phone call away.

When calling for help be sure to give clear directions and listen to the emergency medical dispatcher’s instructions on what to do. Download the What3Words App to have access to a point of reference.

Summer time is fun time. Incidents might happen, but being prepared and knowing what to do if an emergency happens will make your summer a little less stressful.

Be Safe!